Lowcountry homeowners may notice higher flood insurance rates due to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012.

The newly enacted law is designed to help set financials in order for the National Flood Insurance Program, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. One of the most important pieces of the act includes decreasing longstanding subsidies.

That means some homeowners could see premium increases of roughly 20 percent per year over a five-year span, officials said.

The federal flood insurance program subsidizes rates for 20 percent of the 5.6 million dwellings it insures, according to FEMA officials.

Subsidies are applied to “pre-firm” structures, describing those that predate the first flood insurance rate maps. The assistance was made available to help people afford coverage even though their dwellings weren't constructed with flood protection in mind.

Federal subsidies are being gradually erased from second homes, rentals, businesses and dwellings that have had repeated flood losses.

Primary residences with subsidized pricing will be subject to the full rate if the property is sold or the policy lapses.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.